Archive for March, 2011

2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 3: Left Field

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, March 25, 2011 05:00 PM Comments: 13

In the week before Opening Day, we’re looking at each of the five offensive positions that are not known quantities.

Part 1: Intro and First Base
Part 2: Right Field
Part 3: Left Field
Part 4: Shortstop (Saturday morning)
Part 5: Second Base (Saturday afternoon)

Left Field: Raul Ibanez, Opening Day Age: 38
2010: 636 PA, .275/.349/.444, 16 HR, 37 2B
2011 (Bill James-projected): 596 PA, .270/.343/.446, 20 HR

I think the majority of Phillies fans went into the Raul Ibanez experiment with unrealistic expectations for three reasons. First, he was being billed as a like-for-like replacement for longtime Phillies stalwart Pat Burrell in left field. Second, he was being paid like an all-star (three years, $31.5 million; Burrell, who was younger, better, and more right-handed, went to Tampa for 2/3 the contract length and half the total value of the contract). Third, for the first three months or so of his tenure in Philadelphia, Raul was under the mistaken impression that he was Stan Musial. Since then, he’s returned to being what he should have been all along: an aging outfielder who, on offense, is at least average at everything, but great at nothing. His bat speed is dropping with age, as expected, and what he could use more than anything else is a platoon partner–his OPS was nearly 100 points higher against righties than lefties in 2010. Put him and Ben Francisco in a platoon, and you’ve got, very nearly, an all-star corner outfielder. Plus, moving Francisco to left would free up space for Domonic Brown to get….oh, yeah, we’ve covered this. Anyway, a repeat of 2010, give or take a couple dozen points on each of the slash stats, is probably in the cards for Raul. He’s been, more or less, a two-to-three-win player for most of his career, and if he can keep that up, the Phillies should be happy with that.
Continue reading 2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 3: Left Field


Blanton Sharp in Phils Win, Lidge News is Bad News

Posted by Jay Floyd, Fri, March 25, 2011 02:30 PM Comments: 5

In Clearwater on Friday, the Phillies continued a hot spring and beat the Braves 3-1 to continue leading National League teams in the Grapefruit League in wins with 18.

Joe Blanton shined in the contest, throwing scoreless inning in which he allowed just 5 hits, no walks and struck out 4 batters. In addition to dominating on the mound, Blanton added a single at the plate for the defending NL East division champions.

The Phillies took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning when, with Luis Castillo on base, Jimmy Rollins mashed a pitch from former Phils hurler Rodrigo Lopez deep to right and out of Brighthouse Field.

Ryan Howard added a run in the 3rd inning, when he drove a towering fly ball off the top of the left-center field wall for a triple, plating Rollins.

Placido Polanco played three innings for the Phils at third base and went 0-for-2. Polanco had missed time over the past week with left elbow soreness.

Additionally, the Phillies announced Friday that, for the third time in four seasons as a member of the team, Brad Lidge will begin the season on the disabled list. Lidge has been experiencing recurring pain in his right shoulder and is targeting a period of rest, in order to allow some extra time to heal.

Continue reading Blanton Sharp in Phils Win, Lidge News is Bad News


2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 2: Right Field

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, March 25, 2011 08:00 AM Comments: 12

In the week before Opening Day, we’re looking at each of the five offensive positions that are not known quantities.

Part 1: Intro and First Base
Part 2: Right Field
Part 3: Left Field (Friday afternoon)
Part 4: Shortstop (Saturday morning)
Part 5: Second Base (Saturday afternoon)

Right Field: Ben Francisco, Opening Day Age: 29
2010: 197 PA, .268/.327/.441, 6 HR, 8 SB
2011 (Bill James-projected): 330 PA, .271/.336/.446, 10 HR, 10 SB

By “Ben Francisco” here, I mean “some combination of Ben Francisco, Domonic Brown, Ross Gload, and John Mayberry.” Charlie Manuel seems determined, in the absence of Jayson Werth, not to pick a starting right fielder. Here’s the scoop: none of these guys is Jayson Werth, but put together, they’re not bad. Francisco has some speed, some power, and hits lefties very well (.901 OPS in 2010), but isn’t much good against righties (.640 OPS in 2010). Gload, a lefty, actually hits for a higher average against left-handed pitching, but has a higher OBP and slugging percentage against right-handed pitching. Mayberry has been red-hot this spring, but at 27 years old, Mayberry is quickly leaving the age group where one could reasonably expect him to improve.

Then there’s Domonic Brown. Continue reading 2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 2: Right Field


Send Phillies Nation to the Final Four

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, March 24, 2011 10:59 PM Comments: 0

A big “Thank You” goes out to everyone who voted for Phillies Nation in The Phield so far. We’ve made it to the Elite Eight but have a tough match up for a spot in the final four (phinal phour?). Please take a moment right now to vote for us as the best Phillies blog! And don’t forget to tell your friends.

Vote for Phillies Nation Now!


Phils Get To Nathan Again, Still Fall To Twins

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Thu, March 24, 2011 04:48 PM Comments: 1

It seems the Phillies have the Twins’ closer Joe Nathan figured out.  Granted the guy is coming off elbow-reconstructive surgery aka Tommy John, the Phils have really handed it to him this Spring.  In two appearances against Philly, Nathan has pitched an inning and a third.  During that inning plus the Phillies have managed eight hits and nine runs against the Minnesota closer.  Then again, it is the Spring.

Continue reading Phils Get To Nathan Again, Still Fall To Twins


2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 1: Intro and First Base

Posted by Michael Baumann, Thu, March 24, 2011 02:18 PM Comments: 26

What can we expect from the Phillies offense? That’s really the big question going into 2011, isn’t it? After all, great things are expected from the starting rotation, and while the bullpen isn’t 1996 Yankees-good, it’s certainly expected to be good enough, and is a known quantity.

The offense, however? That juggernaut? The rock upon which, for so many years, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro built their church? For the first time I can remember, Phillies fans seem to be sold on the team’s ability to prevent runs, scoring them might be an entirely different propostion.

The way I see it, there are only three sure things in the Phillies’ lineup: Carlos Ruiz, Shane Victorino, and Placido Polanco. Ruiz will play good defense, hit for a fairly high average and no power, but be on base a ton due to his tremendous plate discipline. Polanco will play good defense, hit for a very high average and no power, and never walk, so he won’t be on base much at all. Victorino will, in spite of being blessed with perhaps the best speed/throwing arm combination in the National League, play mediocre defense. He will also hit for a high average (though not as high as Polanco’s) walk (though not as much as Ruiz), hit for a little power and steal, conservatively, about 30 bases.

So that makes three positions where the Phillies can count on solid contributions from three good, but not great, players. There are, however, five other spots in the Phillies’ lineup, and anyone who says he knows for sure what the team will get, except in the most general terms, is lying. The answers to those questions will ultimately determine the course of the season.

What I want everyone to take away from this: whatever you think of what the Phillies offense was in 2010 and is in 2011, it’s at worst an above-average unit. And with this starting rotation, above-average is more than enough to win the World Series. So let’s step off the ledge and address each position case-by-case. Continue reading 2011 Phillies Offensive Preview, Part 1: Intro and First Base


Help Phillies Nation Advance In The Phield!

Posted by Nick "Beerman" Staskin, Thu, March 24, 2011 11:41 AM Comments: 0

Thanks to everyone who has gotten us to the Sweet 16 of the Phield. Voting for Round 3 is open now and you have until tonight at 5pm to cast your ballot. For this and future rounds, you must visit The Phield web site and cast your ballot.

Click here to vote for Phillies Nation.

Also don’t forget to vote for Jay Floyd’s PhoulBallz.com and all your other Phillies blogger friends.


Comfort or Excitement: Choose Your Own Narrative

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, March 24, 2011 03:30 AM Comments: 22

Two months ago, nobody wanted to discuss the process.

Most of the city was foregoing this little thing called “the regular season,” instead awarding the Phillies the National League pennant. There was no curiosity about matching up with the Braves, only curiosity about how many games the World Series would last.

But then life happened. And, as we’re all told from a very early age, if something is too good to be true, it is. Two offensive keys went down. Two months ago, the projected opening day lineup was:

  • Rollins
  • Polanco
  • Utley
  • Howard
  • Ibanez
  • Victorino
  • Brown
  • Ruiz

Today, the projected lineup is:

  • Rollins
  • Polanco
  • Ibanez
  • Howard
  • Victorino
  • Francisco/Gload
  • Ruiz
  • Castillo/Valdez

A lineup with slight question marks but few holes became one riddled with players outside their ideal slot.

It truly is remarkable how, in a few short years, the Phillies went from being an offensive juggernaut that couldn’t attract big-name pitchers to being a team reliant on starting pitching to make up for offensive shortcomings.

With the re-addition of Cliff Lee and a half-year more of Roy Oswalt in 2011, the Phillies will add an estimated 9 wins (per Fangraphs WAR.) The number would be higher if not for the canceled out win-shares from Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer.

By losing Jayson Werth, that nine-win surplus is subtracted by three. Werth was worth five wins in 2010, and the combo of Ben Francisco, Dom Brown, Gload, and whoever else should contribute roughly two.

By losing Utley until July-August (yes, I truly believe that and have seen nothing to make me think otherwise,) the Phillies lose another 3-or so wins. So really, we’re looking at a team that, despite its offseason improvement, is set to start the season in the same position as last year.

That is not necessarily bad news.

I’m sure you didn’t forget, but the Phils led all of major league baseball with 97 wins in 2010 and drove in cruise control during most of September.

The Phillies will still be great in 2011. Elite. Incredibly fun to watch. Twenty-eight other fanbases would choose this roster over their own if given a choice of any team for one year. It just won’t be a six-month pleasure cruise en route to the playoffs.

There are going to be rough patches, times when we clamor for more offense or a better bullpen. There will be times that the age of this roster is rightfully called into question, and times that we shake our head at a managerial miscue.

But if forced to choose any narrative for the 2011 season, who is to say that this isn’t the best one?

Think about it. The Phillies, even with the loss of Werth and injuries to Brown and Utley, are still poised to win between 93-98 games. But to make things more interesting, they will win those games in a different way than they did in 2010. The drink was shaken up but not diluted. We have new guys and old friends to cheer for, and, hell, everybody loves a triumphant mid-season return.

By not combining the return of a top-5 pitcher with a healthy Utley and Brown to start the season, the Phillies may struggle a bit more than we surmised in January, but that will make games all the more exciting. Oftentimes this offseason, friends or family would ask my thoughts on the Phillies’ win total, and I kept responding the same way, “I hope they don’t win 105 games, 110 games,” or whatever the common projection was.

You may disagree, and I’m sure many of you will, but what is the fun in coasting during most of August and September? What is the fun of a massive lead that leads to less enjoyment of our superstars – missed starts here and there for position players and spot starts from Vance Worley or Kyle Kendrick?

To me, the fun in absolutely everything in life, is the process. We all chase that girl for years, only to find out that the years of imagination were better than the real thing. We all tirelessly maneuver to make more money, only to find ourselves hating the journey which leads to the reward.

Enjoying the good times and feeling the raw emotions is what it’s all about. And the passionate Philadelphia sports fan in me would rather sweat out late-season games in hopes of miraculously-timed healing than dismiss summer baseball waiting for the Fall.


Castillo Goes 0-4, Phils fall to Rays 4-1

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Wed, March 23, 2011 03:40 PM Comments: 6

Luis Castillo made us wait.  He was originally in the lineup for yesterday’s game but was a late scratch saying there was a miscommunication between Castillo and his agent.  Waiting to see the new Phillie in action you had to wonder if he would be worth the wait.  Well, not exactly.  Castillo had no hits in four at bats today against the Rays.  He did play second base and occupied the second spot in the lineup behind Jimmy Rollins.

Continue reading Castillo Goes 0-4, Phils fall to Rays 4-1


Spring Gameday: Phillies vs. Rays

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, March 23, 2011 11:19 AM Comments: 8

Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays

Roy Oswalt vs. James Shields

Time: 1:05 pm, Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte, FL
Weather: Sunny, 82
Audio: Phillies.com

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Continue reading Spring Gameday: Phillies vs. Rays

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